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Bedrail entrapment claims some patients' lives

Victor Lewin - Friday, September 04, 2015

Health Canada studied 67 incidents of bed entrapment in a 28-year study from 1980 to 2008. Nearly 54 percent of the cases were fatalities.

A dozen more cases, with three fatalities, were reported between October of 2009 and August of 2012. In the subsequent two-year period, 29 more cases resulted in approximately four more deaths.

While getting trapped in one's bedrails is relatively rare, when it occurs, serious injuries frequently result. Bedrails are necessary features for some hospital and nursing home patients. Railed beds are also often installed in hospice patients' homes. But there is risk of patients becoming trapped between the rails or in the space between the frame and mattress.

There are seven potential zones where bedrail entrapment may occur:

  • Zone 1: The patient gets trapped within the rails
  • Zone 2: Between the supports or under the bedrails
  • Zone 3: Between the mattress and bedrails
  • Zone 4: At the ends of the bedrails or underneath them
  • Zone 5: Between divided bedrails
  • Zone 6: Between the bottom of the rails and side edges of the foot- or headboard
  • Zone 7: Between the bottom of the mattress and the foot- or headboard

Those most at risk are older patients who are likely to become confused or restless. They may already be frail and not in control of their bodies' movements. When an ill-fitting mattress is used with an unmatched frame, the risk also climbs.

Patients can also suffer falls when attempting to climb over bedrails and get bruises and cuts if their skin is pinched from a component on the bedrail.

The best way to prevent bedrail entrapment and other injuries is to monitor patients closely and frequently inspect all components of the beds and bedrails.

If you or a beloved family member were injured by bedrail entrapment while in a hospital or nursing home, you may wish to pursue legal action.

Source: Canada.ca, "Hospital bed safety," accessed Sep. 04, 2015

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